I don’t watch much news. When I see something on twitter, I look up what’s happening in the world. Is that the best way to be alert? Probably not, but that’s me right now.
So I totally missed the goings-on in Charlottesville. But, facebook to the rescue. After being told what I, as a white woman, should be doing, I had to first read about what was going on. I read up and am appalled and sad. I in no way agree with what these protesters were doing. If I was a person who was in the right place at the right time, I would have been on the side of the counter protesters.
I wasn’t there. I was just returned from a trip visiting relatives in Florida. While there, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery and her life is hanging in the balance. I saw my grandkids off to their first days of pre-k and second grade. These children have friends who are “brown”. They do not seem to notice a difference; they never refer to their friends except by name unless they are asked to describe them.
I read this from a well meaning person I respect: “For all my white friends in different parts of the country, we must continue to chip away at the bedrock of this hatred in every conversation we take part in, and every action we take.” I understand his concern, but why must I do this in every conversation I have?
Michael Eric Dyson wrote this in The New York Times: “Now is the time for every decent white American to prove he or she loves this country by actively speaking out against the scourge this bigotocracy represents.”
I am speaking out now, but not because I love America, though I do like it an awful lot and I’m grateful to be one of its citizens. I’m speaking out because I love Christ. I strive to follow him in all I do including the way I treat everyone on a daily basis. I believe that in the Bible God has given instruction on how to live. Do I follow His instructions every day? No. Do I bend over backwards to consider the needs of others? No, not nearly enough. I do strive toward this end; I am learning more everyday what it means to serve others and to love my enemies.
I may not chip away at this hatred in every spoken conversation. I may be hanging out in a hospital waiting room, meeting my grandchildren’s friends, or hugging students when I substitute teach. An older, Middle English definition of conversation meant behavior or manner of living. This is the conversation with which I hope to chip away at hatred.
But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation – I Peter 1:15
In Season 5 of Wonder Years, Kevin is in 11th grade. One episode refers to “The No-Man’s Land of Public Education“. Sometimes this is where I find myself when I’m subbing. I’m a teacher, but not a teacher. Many days I feel like a glorified babysitter, and that’s not what I want to be. I try to be an authority figure as well as a friend to the students. I strive to be pleasant, knowing that for some kids school is their safe place. But, some days, I just see this broken system and feel helpless.
“Nothing seems to fit anymore” – this thought from the same episode is one I can relate to on many levels. Literally, as I am fighting my clothes these days. Figuratively, as I once more face a summer with no work. My drive to be a teacher may never go away, but I just can’t see my way to going back full-time. My drive to write will never go away, but I can’t find a way to steadily earn money with my writing. Even being a mom doesn’t fit the way it used to. But, to everything there is a season.
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Wonder Years Fun Fact: KEVIN AND WINNIE’S FIRST KISS WAS THE REAL THING.
“I’m a teacher, but they won’t let me teach – not the way I can. It’s just not worth it.” – Miss Shaw, the Wonder Years, Season 5
I recently binge watched the entire Wonder Years series. I’d say I teared up during about 80% of the episodes. But, I must reveal that Kevin, the main character, was just two years my senior. I’m talking the character, not the actor. So, all that 70s stuff, all those family issues, the clothes, the culture – that was my world.
Instead of my teen-self, one episode got to the heart of my teacher-self. Miss Shaw was an unconventional teacher. She loved what she was doing and it showed. The kids knew it and her fire lit them up. I’m not saying I agreed with all her methods. But, when she said, “…they won’t let me teach – not the way I can”, I felt like she was speaking for so many other teachers. I recently talked to a teacher who is certified and experienced in one thing and has a desire for it, but she is being forced to teach something else. That’s just sad.
I’ve been in four different school systems in the past few years as a substitute and I’ve seen the mindless test prep and the daily wasted hours in “study hall’ where maybe on a good day five kids were studying. I’ve been in middle schools where seventh graders can’t write a lucid paragraph; in high schools where students spent more time “googling” an answer on their phones than it would have taken to read the article in front of them to find the answer.
I’m not saying there is no good teaching. I have come across pockets of creativity and solid math lessons; I have met some very caring teachers. It’s not usually the teachers, but it’s the system, the “they” that Miss Shaw referred to, that is killing education in our country. And every June, there are teachers who decide, like Miss Shaw, “it’s just not worth it.”
“…So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way…” – from Both Sides Now by Judy Collins
I’ve seen teaching from both sides now; as a full-time teacher and as a substitute. I wish I knew how to make a change.
In my day-to-day life as a substitute teacher, there are little snippets here and there that give hope. It may be seeing a kind child who does something nice for a fellow student without being prompted or acknowledged. It may be the words of appreciation given me when I am able to help with a math problem or give away a pencil.
Even, on a rare occasion, I find a gem in a textbook. The eighth grade World History book gave me some things to think about recently. The kids were in the section on ancient Israel and I came across these words about David (King David) :
“…David was admired for his military skills and as a poet…”
Now, David certainly had military skill, no doubt about that. He was also a great poet – just read any Psalm in the Old Testament that he wrote. Yet, I wonder if any kids who had no background knowledge of David would wonder at the combination of military skill and poetry. And, if those who did have some background knowledge would remember all the other aspects of David’s life. Did any of them know that he was in the lineage of Jesus?
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Acts 2:11
Or that he is described as a “man after God’s own heart?”
… He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ – Acts 13:22
Another excerpt spoke of Ruth, also in the line of Christ.
“…Ruth, who left her people to care for her mother-in-law, was seen as a model of devotion to one’s family”
Yes, Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. – Ruth 1:16
Snippets, little snippets. I keep looking for them.